Goodbye, Roger Ebert

by Bobby Finger

I have always liked Nicolas Cage. I have refused to make him a punchline despite how much I love making punchlines out of everything else. When his 2009 sci-fi film Knowing was announced, its trailer was immediately trashed, but I remained hopeful. Early reviews were dismal, but I still bought advance tickets for opening weekend. On the Friday of its release, I read Roger Ebert’s review. He gave it four stars, and knew he would be one of the few critics who praised it.

I was relieved.

The following day I saw Knowing and loved it. I was thrilled. I was compelled. I was impressed. I raved to my friends, but none of them would see it for themselves. “Did you read the reviews?” they’d ask.

“Yes, but did you read Ebert’s?”

I’d like to take some kind of high road and admit that I loved him even when we disagreed because of my total respect for him as a writer, but I don’t think that’s true. Yes, I admire his passion for writing and film. Yes, I am inspired by his ability to use those passions as a kind of psychological armor as the rest of his body deteriorated over the past few years. But, as much as it pains me to say it, what I’ll mostly remember is how often I agreed with him. How I’d spend every Friday since I was 12 reading his reviews while nodding my head. Or how I’d revisit his reviews after seeing a particular movie and think, “Same, Roger. Same.”

Sometimes it’s nice to have someone who can find that little moment in that meaningless movie you love and tell the world he agrees with you. Sometimes it’s nice, I guess, to have a cinematic ally. He was mine. And I’ll miss him.

[Roger Ebert, Film Critic, Dies at 70]